ORANGE, Calif. – Down four with on final play and on the one-yard line, senior Joe Mudie pushed across the goalline to lift the Chapman University football team to a 42-40 win over Pomona-Pitzer. The Panthers (1-2, 1-0 SCIAC) secured their first win in dramatic fashion after trailing by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Mudie's final push into the end zone capped a one minute and seven second game-winning drive that covered 56 yards. The Sagehens (1-2, 0-1 SCIAC) final score came with 1:13 on the clock and gave the home team a 40-36 advantage. After sticking to a run-first gameplan for the majority of the game, the Panthers' looked to senior QB Ricky Bautista to put together a quick drive through the air.
Bautista marched the Panthers down the field, connecting on five of his seven passes and finding three different receivers for 60 yards. He hit Mudie for six yards and second-and-10. He then connected with senior Jacob Isabel for 11 yards and again for nine yards. A five-yard penalty drove the Panthers back but Bautista found senior Dominic Vaccher for a big 23-yard strike to get inside the 10. He hit Vaccher again on a slant for six yards, putting the Panthers on the doorstep with seven seconds left.
Bautista's next pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage with three seconds left and his final pass was a fade to Isabel that was broken up as time expired. However, pass interference was called to give the Panthers one, final untimed down. Mudie took the call and pushed into the end zone behind his offensive line, sending the Panthers sideline streaming on to the field in jubilation.
The Sagehens took advantage of a couple of special team miscues at the end of the first half to build the initial lead. A snap over the head of punter Elias Deeb went through the end zone for a safety to make it 16-7. The Sagehens took the ball and kicked a field goal as time expired in the half to make it 19-7 at the break.
Another miscue set up Pomona-Pitzer with prime field position as a low snap on a punt put the Sagehens in the red zone to start. The Panthers defense came up with what proved to be a massive stop and forced the Sagehens to try a 34-yard field goal. The kick was no good and kept the Panthers down just 12 points.
Mudie had been a workhorse for the Panthers, taking the ball 21 times for 104 yards on the ground and the final, dramatic score. He also caught a pair of passes for 32 yards, giving him 136 total yards on the day. Junior Marcellus Hunter scored the Panthers first touchdown, punching it in from two yards out at the beginning of the second quarter. He ran the ball nine times for 42 yards.
Chapman had 144 yards on the ground and held Pomona-Pitzer's all-time leading rusher Aseal Birir to just 40 yards on 13 carries. Karter Odermann, who drive the Sagehens down the field for the go-ahead score with 1:13 left, ran for 80 yards and threw for 282 more.
Chapman and Pomona-Pitzer traded blows through the third and early fourth quarter, bouncing between a 12-point and 5-point game. With 8:20 to go, Bautista hit Vaccher for a 17-yard TD to make it 33-28. The pattern was finally disrupted when junior Marek Spooner-LeDuff pulled down an interception to halt the Pomona-Pitzer drive and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown, giving Chapman its first lead. The Panthers opted for the two-point try and pulled out a reverse pass from Vaccher to Bautista to take a 36-33 lead with 5:57 to go.
Odermann took his team down the field and capped the drive with a go-ahead TD toss from the one yard line to set the stage for the Panthers' final, dramatic drive.
Pomona-Pitzer outgained Chapman 429-326 in the game but Chapman's offense did not turn the ball over. Junior Curt Calomeni led the defense with 12 tackles, including a sack, while senior Chris Williams had 10 tackles.
The Panthers return home for the first time in nearly a month to host Whittier at 7 p.m. next Saturday in the annual Homecoming game.